Personal Statement Writing: Body Paragraphs

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 The body paragraphs are the main parts of your medical school personal statement. The purpose of this section is to give substance to the assertions that you presented in your introduction. This is also the area in which you should present and discuss any skills or experiences which make you an especially qualified candidate. It is especially important to mention them if they are not mentioned in other portions of your application package. Most medical school personal statements will have two to four body paragraphs.


In most cases, each body paragraph should contain 4 sections:

  • Focus
  • Proof
  • Discussion
  • Transition


The focus is the introductory section of your paragraph. Its function is to tell the audience what the paragraph is about. Generally, each body paragraph should have a single and unique focus. This will help organize your essay and make it easier to follow. However, in some cases, it may make sense to have a main focus with other sub-focuses mentioned within the same paragraph.


 After presenting your focus, you should next begin presenting evidence that confirms your focus and theme characteristics. (As a review, theme characteristics are the positive personal attributes that you are highlighting in your essay). Your reader will be more convinced of your theme characteristics if you give examples of these attributes in action. For example, if you state that you have strong leadership skills, you should take time in your body paragraphs to describe situations in which you were a strong and effective leader.


In order to have maximum impact, take some time in your body paragraphs to discuss how your proof relates to your theme characteristics.  Although it may seem obvious to you how a particular experience demonstrates a theme characteristic, your essay will be much more effective and persuasive if you explicitly explain the connection.


The transition section serves to shifts the reader’s focus to the next idea that you will present. If a body paragraph contains more than one focus, it is very important to use transition sentences to introduce a shift in topic. Similarly, transition statements are useful at the end of a paragraph to alert the reader that the next paragraph will introduce a new topic.

After writing the body paragraphs, read through your personal statement from the beginning. If your essay presents your theme characteristics, provides effective evidence, and does not seem to stop abruptly, you may have a completed first draft. If so, congratulations! After a few revisions you will be ready to submit your work for essay editing. However, if your personal statement seems incomplete after reviewing your introduction and body paragraphs, you will need to add a conclusion paragraph. We will discuss this optional section in a later post.